Uncle Hagop in Stratford upon Avon – Sarah Mnatzaganian

Uncle Hagop in Stratford upon Avon

I’m on my camp site by the river,
wading through the flood that followed rain
where, undeterred, uncle Hagop swims upstream.

Joy buoys him up like Dead Sea water.
Head and shoulders high, he walruses
his favourite lines:

Now is the winter of our discontent;
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow;
If music be the food of love.

He’s in his element, twice.

Swans gather in his wake,
curling respectful necks.
We leave our sodden tents and follow.


Sarah Mnatzaganian is an Anglo-Armenian poet.  Shortlisted for the Poetry Business pamphlet competition 2016/17, her poems have been published in The North, Fenland Reed, London Grip, Poems in the Waiting Room, As Above, So Below, Write to be Counted and #MeToo a women’s anthology edited by Deborah Alma.  She studies with Peter and Ann Sansom, Heidi Williamson and Moniza Alvi.







Running Deer – Louise Warren

Running Deer

Under the trees they cluster, a small tight group,
nervy, pacing, half in shadow,
waiting for me to make a move.

I say be still. I watch the shadows drift, the mist,
their bodies flecked with soft brown leaves, be still,
but I can see them twitch,

a dark and startled eye, a tail begin to flick.
Their blood is hot, their hooves begin
to stamp a pulse inside my head.

They stamp, the cluster moves as one, sweating, tensed,
ready to spring. I try to soothe them back
too late, one leaps away

now here they come. Running and running,
their hooves a thundering beat around around
the bone hard floor.

All I can do is hide, crouch down, cover my face,
but I can feel their animal breath, chaos runs
with the deer, suffers, won’t be eased

until the wood is smashed to bits, I wait,
dazed, emptied out, I watch them vanish
they are delicate and terrible in the half light.


Louise Warren – ‘A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo’ (2012) and ‘In the scullery with John Keats’(2016) both published by Cinnamon Press. Winner of the Prole Laureate Poetry Competition 2018. Her next pamphlet ‘John Dust’ will be published by V.Press in 2019.

Words opposite.wordpress.com

Figs – John Porter


From a life where they’d made no impact
he started eating one fig a day
on the advice of a doctor in a dream.
At first with yoghurt and honey
then whole like an apple
seeds drying round his mouth
oil lingering in his throat till late.
It became such that if he missed a fig
the gripes were crippling and visions
of demons would send him to bed.
When trade laws changed and supply
dwindled he sold the house
to charter a plane from Jordan
and when it didn’t arrive was found
naked on the runway, clawing at the asphalt.


John Porter’s poems have been published in The Stinging Fly, Prole, Streetcake, Snakeskin, Pulp Poets Press and Morphrog. He lives in Gloucestershire, UK, after previous stints in London and Moscow. He usually writes on trains or whilst waiting for his children to fall asleep. He has a website at https://www.johnporterauthor.com .

Featured Publication – Interned at the Food Factory by Sharon Larkin

Our featured publication for April is Interned at the Food Factory by Sharon Larkin, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Interned at the Food Factory takes eating as its theme, where food is less a source of nourishment and enjoyment, rather a series of individual and social challenges to be confronted and overcome.

By turns vulnerable and sassy, heartbreaking and funny, consistently insightful and readable. The food in these poems is no spread for some twee picnic.  In an age of increasingly innocuous poetry, Sharon Larkin is to be applauded for the rawness included here and for an exceptional instinct for the  emotional weight and balance of her poems” Brett Evans

In these poems Sharon Larkin weaponises the language of food; sometimes witty, always moving. Watch out. This is a place where you must check whether ‘the knife drawer’ [is] closed.” Kate Noakes



Sloe Gin

Plucky to show up so soon
before your white-blousy neighbour
before your green has burst
or frosts have pinched their last
and after they’ve returned
it’s kind of you to hang on,
long after blackberries
are corrupt in devil spit.

How thoughtful of you
to yield the right wood
for this walking stick
bringing bough to hand
but how mean that your
blue-bloomed drupes
so pucker the lips.
You’re only good to ruin gin.

Picker-spiker, now it’s my turn
to pierce your skin, make you bleed.
I take up the needle.
The pay-back is sweet.
A fistful of sugar
for every pound of flesh –
you soak for weeks
in the sticky liquor.

As cakes are laced and puddings sweat,
you are steeping, inedible,
utterly drunk.


Beach Breakfast

It’s been a long night, a difficult week.

We meet on the sand
where you’ve set up an impromptu barbecue –
and, of course, it’s fish you’re grilling,
freshly caught and gutted by the guys
hovering around the boat, looking over at us,
no doubt wondering about the conversation
that is just beginning.

I blurt out how sorry I am.
I was unfaithful. I still love you.
But you don’t seem to accept
my apology, my profession of love.
I have to repeat it, over and over.

You are more concerned about food,
intent on the prospect of sharing it around,
even though in my eyes, right here,
right now, there are just the two of us.

Then I realize that is my perspective.
I’ve squeezed you into my narrow field of view,
where you rightly have the proportions of a giant,
but you’re not mine alone,
you’re theirs over by the boat,
you’re everybody’s.


Pâté d’Alouette

A teenager abroad for the first time
sits down to a little delicacy
from the sixteenth century.
On her plate, bones of a small bird
attracted by multicoloured glass
and netted in the Gatinais,
not a great distance from where
Jeanne d’Arc first ventured out.

She learns the recipe: eight larks,
eight ounces of bloated livers
from force-fed geese, stock
from a boiled chicken, her egg.
Marinate larks in port, thyme, bay.
Next morning, rise with the lark
to prepare the day’s specialité.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.

Stir-fry the tiny organs and intestines
of your larks, crush them, incorporate
with shallots and breadcrumbs
in chicken stock. Fill body cavities
with truffled foie gras. Make a pastry bed,
bury larks in stuffing. Top off with crust.
Seal. Brush with egg, bake for an hour.
Best served cold with green salad,

a baton, a little wine.


Bacon for the Olfactorily Challenged

Come. I’ll show you the unraw material,
these young Old Spots.
Pick one up. Stroke his back.
Look into his little piggy eyes.
Rub the down across your top lip.

I hope you can sense the tenderness.
Twist his cute curly tail
around your little finger.
Hear him squeal.
Get used to it.

When electrocuted, he’ll sizzle and pop.
Watch as his belly is slit, his innards spilt.
They will glisten and steam,
as they slither over the slick zinc.
It is a shame you can’t smell.

After the beheading, hanging, quartering,
run your fingers over the strips of fat,
lean, gristle, bone. Breathe in the smoke,
the sodium nitrate. They improve texture
and taste but maybe not your health.

Now slice your pig thinly, spread him,
streaky-rashered, over your grill-pan.
Turn up the heat. Hear Babe spit.
Gaze on his remains as they twist and weep.
Wince as his irascible fat stings your hands.

Sprinkle salt on your burns.
Eat your bacon with lashings of sauce.


Previous publication credits: Sloe Gin – Beyond the Well-Mapped Provinces (Cheltenham Poetry Society), Pate d’Alouette – The Stare’s Nest.

Sharon Larkin’s poetry has been widely published in anthologies, magazines and on-line.  She is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society and jointly runs Poetry Café – Refreshed.  She was founder/editor of the Good Dadhood poetry project and runs Eithon Bridge Publications.

Interned at the Food Factory is available to purchase from the Indigo Dreams Publishing website.

The Late Kathy Gee – Kathy Gee

The Late Kathy Gee

Let it be said that I was late
to start, much later ‘popping’,
almost last to fall in love.
Let it be said that I made up
for years so carelessly mislaid,
that I was late to grow into
my wrinkles, late when, in my fifties,
I fell hot and bothered into
lust, but left it far too late.

I am a late developer.
That ought to be ‘I was’, of course,
but I am slow to take on board
this dying thing. I hope it’s not
too late to learn that I was loved.


Kathy Gee’s career was in heritage. In 2016, her poetry collection was published by V. Press http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html and she wrote the spoken word elements for http://suiteforthefallensoldier.com/. Her next small collection of duologues – Checkout – is due out in March 2019.



Running Down the Past – Tom Kelly

Running Down the Past

(To Granny)

Aa run down Hope Street,
Salem Street an’
Saint Paul’s Road aa thought was dead posh,
ti’ th’ Salt Grass,
where we’d bool waa paste eggs
doon th’ humptybacked hill.

Aa run down th’ Church Bank an’
Sandy’s Hole,
th’ winding path
ti th’ Mercantile wi boats’ bloated
in tha’ docks.

Through th’ Pedestrian tunnel an
Howdon , thinking we wor in another country.
Run up Ellison Street ti’ th’ Mechanics Hall,
where mam an’ dad danced th’ night away til ten.

Aa run up th’ cemetery bank,
stop at ya unmarked grave
an ye tell me th’ years have flown.


Tom Kelly is a poet, playwright and short story writer. His stories have appeared on Radio Four and in UK magazines. He has had eight poetry collections, and Behind the Wall, his first full-length short story collection was launched in April 2018.

Wyatt Earp Fumbles – Oz Hardwick

Wyatt Earp Fumbles

Where once we had words, now our mouths stretch
themselves.. into clumsy semaphore,.. unnatural
shapes. struggling. for. meaning. Do you. remember
the card-sharp play of crafty syllables,.. verbs slipped
up. sleeves and. nestling. in. the. necks of loose-laced
boots?.. The. piano. player. stopped.. each. time. you
walked in,.. and the barman slid neat phrases down a
bar that stretched forever, saloon doors swinging like
a buzzard. eating itself... It might have. been distance,
or.. it. might.. have. been.. the.. bullet.. holes. in.. my
embroidered. waistcoat,. but. all. the. world’s a. stage
leaving a. one-horse town,. and. though my jaws. flex,
stretch and ache,. all sound lies dead in the high noon


Oz Hardwick is a poet, photographer and sometime musician, whose seventh poetry collections, Learning to Have Lost, was published in 2018 by the International Poetry Studies Institute, Canberra. Oz leads the Creative Writing programmes at Leeds Trinity University.


The Wake – Hannah Brockbank

The Wake

A life time from now, I’ll still remember
how we steadied ourselves in the wake
of her worn body. How we tied apron strings
around each other’s waists, stacked teacups high
and told them not to topple over,
as if that could be the final thing to break us.


Hannah Brockbank is published in a variety of journals, magazines and anthologies including: When Women Waken journal, The London MagazineEnvoi, and Raving Beauties (ed.) Hallelujah for 50ft Women anthology. Her debut pamphlet, Bloodlines is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Knockoff – Paul Waring


His 90’s vintage hawked gear around smoke-fogged
pubs. Uniform trackie, navy or black, baseball cap,

Leaned in like everyone’s best mate with a dead cert
bet to share. Wrist-queued dodgy designer watches
and Aladdin’s Cave sports bag booty:

CD’s/DVD’s, red-hot-must-haves filched
from assorted sources: shop, car, back of lorry,
warehouse, your house – and mine.

Picture him today. Evolved. On trend. Mocha-latte
smooth, model features, trademark beard, diamond
nose stud; ringer for a Hoxton fashionista,

Premiership footballer or Jesus in a sharp suit.
Mover and shaker in bespoke bars, messenger bag
loaded with wafer-light devices.

Still swearing it’s totally legit, one eye locked
on the exit, feet ticking over in runway brogues—
ready-get-set for take off.


Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and performed in Liverpool bands. His poems have appeared in print and online at Prole, Algebra of Owls, Strix, Amaryllis, The High Window, Here Comes Everyone and others.
Twitter: @drpaulwaring
Blog: https://waringwords.wordpress.com

You were to me – Olga Dermott-Bond

You were to me

…………………….a scientist, who when I was sick wrapped
……………………..me in an old cardigan and aspirin then
………………………took a swab of my throat, growing my
……………………..virus in a petri dish in the airing cupboard
………………………so I saw the reasons, like tiny jellyfish,
………………………behind my hot shivers. You were to me a
……………………..trapeze artist in sensible shoes who claimed
………………………to have no imagination, no interest in how
………………………ideas could swing glittering above my head
……………………..when I flew to catch them. You were to me
………………………a bible, a guilt-abacus, a great ball of string,
……………………..a suitcase, sinew, muscle, heart, lungs. You
………………………were to me a bone collector, your own child-
………………………hood rattling in jars in a stammering pantry,
………………………trying so hard to speak. You were to me
………………………sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper,
………………………all of yourself given away in hungry parts.
………………………You were to me a medicine of breadcrumbs
………………………saucepans rattling with heat of motherhood,
………………………oblivious to my 5, 6, 7 melting like snow
………………………from a ditch.


A former Warwick Poet Laureate, Olga’s work can be read in a range of publications including Rattle Magazine, Magma and Ink Sweat and Tears. This year she was one of the winners of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition.